Harrison concludes perfect regular season, enters playoffs

Harrison concludes perfect regular season, enters playoffs

David Roberts ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns and second-ranked Harrison completed the second 10-0 regular season in school history with a 47-10 victory over Creekview in a Region 6-AAAAAA game Friday in Kennesaw.

Roberts scored on runs of 2 and 9 yards in the first quarter as the Hoyas built a 14-3 lead and added a 5-yard touchdown run on Harrison's first possession of the second half to increase the lead to 33-10. Roberts surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season on his final carry of the night, a 9-yard run with 6:53 remaining in the game.

"All year long, we've been able to count on him," Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said. "He missed one game to a turf toe, but he got his thousand tonight, and that's what we were hoping. That wasn't the focus; the focus was to win the game, but once we got close enough we wanted to make sure he got a thousand. It's an honor for the offensive line and how hard he's worked, too."

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Harrison, which clinched its second region championship in three years with a victory over Sequoyah, improved to 10-0 for the first time since 2002. The Hoyas will host Winder-Barrow, the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AAAAAA, in the first round of the playoffs next week.

Harrison overcame a sloppy first quarter and a half in which it failed to cover a pooch kick on the opening kickoff, lost a fumble on offense and then mishandled a punt that Creekview recovered at the Hoyas' 9-yard line.

Only the third mistake was costly, however. Creekview's Ethan Dirrim followed the fumble recovery with two runs that covered 9 yards to cut the lead to 21-10 with 7:54 to play in the first half.

The Hoyas' defense limited the damage after the first two miscues, with a fumble recovery and a Ryan Smith interception stopping Creekview scoring opportunities.

"We kinda knew coming out that they might try an onside kick, and they blooped it and we didn't react to it," Dickmann said. "There's some things we've definitely got to get cleaned up, but the defense definitely bailed us out several times."

The biggest play by the Harrison's defense, and perhaps the key play of the game, came on the first snap of the second quarter. Creekview had just taken over at its 20 after Roberts' second touchdown run made it a 14-3 game with four seconds remaining in the first quarter. On the Grizzlies' next play, Victor Pless intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown and a 21-3 lead. The Hoyas' lead had gone from four points to 18 in 12 seconds of game time.

"It was gigantic, and we've been doing it that kind of all year, getting big turnovers by our defense," Dickman said. "Defense wins championships. You know, offense wins games, but defense wins championships."

Creekview (6-4, 4-4), the defending region champion, came into the game tied for third place in the region, needing a victory as well as some help just to make the playoffs. The Grizzlies got neither and finished as the fifth-place team. Sprayberry and Dalton earned the region's No. 3 and No. 4 seeds with victories Friday, finishing behind Harrison and runner-up Allatoona.

Harrison was ranked second in Class AAAAAA scoring defense, allowing 9.1 points per game, and was right at its average against Creekview. The Grizzlies were held to 155 yards of total offense, just 20 rushing and 132 passing, 78 of which came on two passes from Brody Rhodes to Dirrim in the first half.

Harrison finished with 321 yards rushing and 424 overall. Jay Ziglor had 82 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and Mason Babay had two carries for 51 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown run with 4:27 left to close out the scoring. Gavin Hall was 7-of-13 passing for 103 yards but attempted just three passes in the second half as the Hoyas pulled away.